What Happens If You Are Charged With Vehicular Manslaughter?

In the state of California, many traffic-related offenses exist, with misdemeanor DUI and felony DUI being a couple of common ones. However, there is a relative newcomer to the list going by the name vehicular manslaughter. You may or may not have heard about it and may be wondering what would happen if you are charged with this offense. Well, you are here to learn about this traffic-related crime and we shall not disappoint you. First, let’s define it!

What is vehicular manslaughter?

Vehicular manslaughter is a very serious offense, related to traffic accidents that lead to fatalities of pedestrians, occupants of another car, or passengers of the car at fault. In California, anyone can face criminal charges for vehicular manslaughter if your neglect or unlawful conduct causes a fatal accident.

Situations that would warrant Vehicular Manslaughter Charges:

You were driving a car that was involved in an accident, and unfortunately, some people lost their lives and you are now charged with vehicular manslaughter. In order to understand if your charge was appropriate, you will first need to know the kind of driving that triggers such a charge in California. Briefly, here below are they typical driving types that may see you stand before a prosecutor to answer vehicular manslaughter charges:

  • Negligent driving – This is when a person drives carelessly or shows some form of negligence, such as when the driver is distracted and briefly takes their eyes off the road;
  • Driving while intoxicated – Driving under the influence of drugs (regardless of whether they are prescription or illegal) or alcohol is considered to be reckless driving behavior;
  • Driving while excessively sleepy – Accidents that occur when the person behind the wheel is too sleepy to keep their eyes open;
  • Violating a safety statute – Vehicular manslaughter can be charged if an accident happens after the driver violates a safety requirement in the state’s statute.

Vehicular Manslaughter Conviction punishment:

In California, vehicular manslaughter is treated as a violation of Penal Code Section 192-C. The prosecutor has the option to charge you with either a felony or misdemeanor. However, if the offense was committed with the intent of financial gain, then the charge is purely a felony.

A conviction of vehicular manslaughter results in the punishments as explained below:

  • If charged as a misdemeanor, convicts are jailed for 1 year and pay a maximum fine of $1,000;
  • If charged as a felony, one is required to stay in prison for a period of 2 to 6 years and pay a maximum fine of $10,000;
  • If it is a fatal road accident committed for financial gains, the offender is locked up in prison for a period of 4 to 10 years and a fine of up to $10,000;
  • For each surviving victim who greatly suffered bodily injury, the convicted will serve an additional and consecutive 3 to 6 years in prison;
  • If the driver flees the scene or did not report the accident, they face an additional and consecutive 60 months in state prison;
  • Finally, if the driver had been convicted previously of DUI or vehicular manslaughter related offenses, then the state prison will be their home for the next 15 years.

If you’re facing criminal charges for vehicular manslaughter, then it is imperative to hire an experienced defense lawyer in Fresno, California. As you have already seen, the consequences of this crime are extremely harsh with many years in prison and the need to pay steep fines. A good criminal attorney will help you fight to have the charges dismissed or reduced, or negotiate for a lenient sentence.

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